A few kilometres from Naivasha town is a building named Wa-madogs. What? Wa-madogs? Well, it means “one who belongs to, or trains, dogs.” Inside the building is a rare business name: Wa-madogs Dogs Training Academy.
The centre trains people who plan to keep dogs on how to handle the animals. It also equips those who have a passion for dogs, yet can’t go near them because of fear, with skills to deal with them.
Disappointed by the way most people mistreated dogs, Timothy Githogori was convinced that they needed formal training to enable them relate with man’s best friend. Every time he sold a dog to a client he was left a worried man, particularly when he was not sure of how the new owner would handle the canine.
“For me parting with a dog is emotional enough, but being unsure of the happy future of the same gives me sleepless nights,” said Mr Githogori.
The handsome earnings he gets from the business should leave him smiling all the way to the bank. But after a deal Mr Githogori is often worries about how the dog will be treated by the new owner.
Though Mr Githogori has been in dog business for the last 16 years, it was not until three months ago that he set up the school. The Naivasha-based dog breeder said that he had noticed the desire of many people to keep the canines, especially for security reasons. But he also noticed their ignorance when it came to caring for the animals.
Mr Githogori started hosting dog bazaars in various towns around the country in a bid to take his ‘‘service’’ closer to his potential clients.
“I would advertise in the local media my plans to visit different towns and host dog bazaars,” said Mr Githogori.
The popularity of the bazaars pointed to high demand for dogs, he said. He has held bazaars in Kitale, Eldoret, Nairobi, Kericho, Naivasha and Maela, adding that they were well attended.
He also noticed the fact that many people shied away from keeping dogs for fear of handling them.
“Women in particular did not even go close to a puppy let alone handle a mature dog,” said Mr Githogori.
The experience became an inspiration for setting up the school. A full-time course, which takes one month, costs Sh50,000. Mr Githogori said that business was on the rise and more people were attending his training sessions.
Some of the fee, he said, goes towards vaccinating the dogs used in training against rabies to ensure the safety of trainees.
“Even when the dogs have been vaccinated before, we have to do it as trainees watch to rest any doubts,” he said.
Mr Githogori said he has trained more than 20 people, including five women.
His journey into the dog breeding business started when he travelled to Tanzania as marketing manager for a local alcoholic drinks company.
“I met an old man of Asian origin who reared dogs and decided to ask him to sell me two puppies,” said Mr Githogori.
Before selling the puppies to Mr Githogori, who was 30 years old then, the Asian offered him some words of advice.
“If you want to be rich venture into rare businesses, demand for services such as unblocking toilets and dogs for security will remain high amid low supply,” said the man.
From earning Sh35,000 per month as a sales manager 16 years ago, Mr Githogori now makes hundreds of thousands of shillings each month from selling his canines, hiring them out, cleaning and grooming them for clients and training people on how to handle them.
“I have made numerous investments including buying land from the business.’’
However, Mr Githogori had the business has its down-side. Some former friends shunned him for engaging in an ‘‘odd job’’. On the other hand, the business has led him to rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty including top businessmen and politicians.
Among his top clients, he said, include President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family, Othaya MP Mary Wambui and senior police officers.
Though he is optimistic that training people on how to handle dogs will boost his business, Mr Githogori faces challenges such as lack of training kits. The best quality kits, he said, cost Sh300,000 each and are rare to find in Kenya forcing him to resort to second hand clothes.
“Initially people dealing with second hand clothes would sell me overalls at throw away prices but they have raised prices from Sh100 to Sh15,000 having discovered their usefulness.
“However, I will soldier on as long as I am passionate about it and it brings food to my table,” he said.
Mr Githogori said that there are many job opportunities in the country if people can embrace what is considered dirty work.
“After all, no money is labelled dogs breeding, plumbing, doctor or architect — all people have needs and must work to satisfy them,” he said.